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Student production heads to festival
12/13/13

The cast of the Alfred University (AU) Performing Arts Division’s production of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” has been invited to perform at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s (KCACTF) Region II award program.

This invitation indicates “our production is considered some of the best of college theater in the region,” said Dr. Becky Prophet, the show’s director and professor of theater, noting the festival is designed “to encourage the creation of the best possible college theater.”

Some 33 cast, as well as crew, members – a majority of those from the original campus production - will travel to West Chester University with a moving truck full of stage scenes and production material, early Jan. 14 to perform sometime between Jan. 14-18, 2014, in either a 500-seat or a 1,500 seat theater on the West Chester (PA) University) campus, which is hosting the Region II program, said Prophet. Alfred University’s “Much Ado About Nothing” features student, staff, and faculty cast and crew members, most of whom will make the trip, she added.

Those participating in the KCACTF competition majority will return early to AU from semester break the second week of January to rehearse prior to the regional competition. The campus production, staged on campus Nov. 6-9, 2013,  was originally presented “thrust” (platform or open stage) style and will have to be reworked “proscenium” (stage is “framed” by an arch and the audience sits directly in front) style, noted Prophet.

Costumes for the show were designed by Allison Burrell, a senior art and design major from Corning. Rebecca Cooner, a sophomore early childhood/childhood education major from Gasport, is stage manager. Division of Performing Arts staff member Zachary Hamm, technical director, fills that role for the production. Professor of Theater Design Marketa Fantova, who served as lighting designer for the campus production will be unable to make the trip to West Chester.

Written between 1598 and 1599, “Much Ado About Nothing” is widely considered one of Shakespeare’s best comedies. Combining hilarity with more serious elements such as honor, shame, and court politics, it intersperses joy and happiness with darker concerns such as trickery and dishonesty. Keeping the original plot, the AU cast and crew “moved” the play from Sicily, Italy to a setting in Miami, FL, in 1930.

The KCACTF includes eight national regions. Five to eight colleges from Region II (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and parts of Virginia and West Virginia) will be represented in the West Chester program.

Begun in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the Kennedy Center's founding chairman, KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide which has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents.

In January and February of each year, regional festivals showcase the finest of each region's entered productions and offer a variety of activities, including workshops, symposia, and regional-level award programs.

Since its inception, KCACTF has given more than 400,000 college theater students the opportunity to have their work critiqued, improve their dramatic skills and receive national recognition for excellence. More than 16 million theatergoers have attended approximately 10,000 festival productions nationwide.

Through state, regional, and national festivals, KCACTF participants celebrate the creative process, see one another's work, and share experiences and insights within the community of theater artists. The KCACTF honors excellence of overall production and offers student artist’s individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, and design.

Prophet is an alumna of Alfred University, holding a bachelor of arts degree in English. She received a master of arts degree and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Having spent nearly three decades working and teaching in theater, she has acted, directed, and taught in Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Atlanta.

Prophet enjoys directing plays which challenge students and audiences and favors theater which presses for social and political change. She is highly active in KCACTF and Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and has created an intensive directing institute for students, presents numerous workshops and papers, and directs new plays at every conference.